Helicopter pilot and 11 passengers injured in crash near Queenstown

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A helicopter pilot, injured along with 11 passengers in a crash-landing near Queenstown, was to be transferred to Dunedin Hospital. 

The pilot was in a chopper that appears to have clipped another grounded helicopter as it was landing, a statement by the Rescue Coordination Centre Maritime says. 

In all, 11 passengers from both helicopters suffered minor injuries and were uplifted back to Queenstown Airport shortly after 5pm, it adds. 

The injured pilot, uplifted from the scene near Tyndall Glacier at the head of the Shotover River in Mt Aspiring National Park, had been returned to Queenstown Airport around 5.15pm. 

The extent of the pilot’s injuries is unknown. 

Search Mission Coordinator Kevin Banaghan says: “A landing helicopter appears to have clipped a stationary helicopter on its descent to land near Tyndall Glacier…shortly after 3pm this afternoon.”

A MAYDAY call was made at about 3.20pm and the rescue centre got an alert from one of the chopper’s Emergency Locator Transmitters.

Four rescue helicopters have worked together to retrieve an injured pilot and several uninjured passengers from the landing helicopter, Banaghan says.

The Tyndall Glacier is a spot used for heli skiing.

The Government’s Transport Accident Investigation Commission confirms it has opened an inquiry into the incident, which it says involved a helicopter landing on the Tyndall Glacier and reportedly clipping another helicopter and rolling.

Two Commission investigators will travel to Queenstown tomorrow morning and then to the accident site.

They will gather background information on the flight, interview witnesses, and fly in to inspect the accident site and wreckage before any recovery work begins.